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Google Merchant Center has recently rolled out an awesome new feature called ‘Feed Rules’. Feed Rules makes the transition from your inventory management system to your Merchant Center feed quick, seamless, and increasingly automated (especially if you are utilizing the API).

Basically, Feed Rules takes unsupported product data and transforms it into supported data, such as “Golf Equipment” (unsupported) to “Golf” (supported). Up until now, you would have had to make the change from “Golf Equipment” to “Golf” manually. With this exciting new feature, what could there possibly be to worry about?

Before I continue, I need to ask…Is it possible that you are not using shopping campaigns at all? Did you know that shopping campaigns have higher CTRs and better conversions than regular text ads for selling products? In other words, you are leaving money on the table if you are not using shopping campaigns. OK, now that that’s out of the way, we can move on.

As with any new feature, I’m always wary of going all in before testing first. The last thing that I want to happen is to erroneously create a rule that could ruin my feeds, destroy my CTR, drive up costs, mess up my ads, bid on the wrong search terms, or any other apocalyptic ending!

So (now that I have shared with you my innermost thoughts and fears), what I am going to do is test a “less important” feed with less traffic, instead of testing my best performing category. My intention is to keep my test small, thus keeping mistakes to a minimum. Next, I’m going to create my rules and upload my feed. I’m done now, right?

Well, almost…

I still have to check my feed for errors. I’ll fix any that exist, and then let my ads run.

Over the next week or two, I’m going to monitor my AdWords account and look for any dramatic or unexpected changes in my stats such as CPA, CTR, CPC, or impressions.

Pro tip: Avoid running ad tests at the same time as a Feed Rules tests. You will lose the ability  to benchmark your data.

Once you are confident that you won’t destroy your feeds, it is time to apply this across all of your feeds. Just make sure that you are monitoring your feeds and AdWords account for mistakes.

Pro tip: Make use of the AdWords previewer, this will help you to spot check your ads.

Could your business benefit from Shopping campaigns, but you are unsure of  where to start? Would you like to learn how to setup and run a Shopping campaign like a pro? Learn how to get more conversions by registering for our live Google Shopping Campaigns course here. You’ll get a Google certified instructor giving you hands on teaching in Shopping campaigns. Register now before the class fills up.

Customization is key with marketing and Google AdWords has some incredible tools that allow advertisers to quickly tailor the messaging of ads to drive action. One of my favorites is the countdown function, which automatically updates ads to let customers know the time remaining for sales or special events.

Including the time remaining for a sale drives a sense of urgency for a customer and encourages them to act now. Take a look at the two ads below. Which messaging better highlights that the sale is ending soon?

Google Ad 1 Google Ad 2

Without using ad customizers, you would need to manually update your ads each day with the number of days remaining in the sale. With the countdown customizer though, you create one ad that automatically updates with the days, hours, and minutes remaining.

Let’s take a closer look at how the countdown function, well, functions.

{=COUNTDOWN(”yyyy/MM/dd HH:mm:ss”,”language”,daysBefore)}

The function uses three arguments that need to be formatted and ordered as shown above.

“yyyy/MM/dd HH:mm:ss”

This is the date and time you want your function to countdown to, the end date of a sale or the day of an event for example. Make sure to use the 24-hour time format. If no time is entered into the function, it will default to 00:00:00.

“language”

This is the language the date and time will be displayed in. Make sure you choose the language that fits with the language of our ad.

“daysBefore”

This argument tells AdWords when your ad should start running. Use a whole number to indicate how many days before the end date to start running your ad. Do not put this number in quotation marks.

To make sure advertisers format the countdown function correctly, AdWords has integrated a pop-up box that appears when you start writing the function in your text ad. This box guides you through the data you need to input.

Google Ad Countdown

Under advanced settings, you can also select if you want to use the AdWords account time zone or an ad viewer’s time zone. The option you choose will depend on if the end time varies by time zone. For example, let’s say your sale ends at midnight in each time zone. By using the ad viewer’s time zone option, someone in New York might see an ad that says, “Sale ends in 2 hours” while someone in California would see “Sale ends in 5 hours.”

When utilizing the countdown function for my clients, I typically see both higher click-through rates and conversion rates, especially as we get closer to the end date. If you aren’t using countdown already, I highly recommend trying it out. Any feature that can save advertisers time and create more customized ads is a win in my book.

Date: Tuesday, September 23rd 
Time: 10:00 am PT / 1:00 pm ET

Join Cardinal Path for this one-hour webinar that will teach you how to get started with Google’s Shopping campaigns.

Google Shopping allows advertisers to get their products in front of customers on the largest search engine in the world. With AdWord’s new Shopping campaigns, managing your Product Listing Ads has become even easier. You can browse products right from in the AdWords interface, view benchmark data to bid competitively, and boost return for your business.

During this webinar you will learn more about:

  • The benefits of Product Listing Ads on Google Shopping
  • How to get started running Product Listing Ads
  • New management features in AdWords for optimizing product ads

Can’t make the live date? Register anyway and we will automatically send you a link to the on-demand webinar when it’s available.

Register

AdWords has announced they will be removing the option for advertisers to opt-out of close variant matching for phrase and exact keywords in late September. What does this change mean for advertisers? Well, close variants are turned on at the campaign level by default, so if you’ve never disabled the option you won’t see any change in performance.

AdWords is making this change so advertisers can reach more customers and to reduce management complexity, but any changes aimed at easing management always seem to take away control from the advertiser (e.g. enhanced campaigns, upgraded location extensions). As an account manager, I value this control so I can better optimize my clients’ ad performance but I’m not sure this change will have any major impact.

To get input from others about this change, I asked on our Digital Marketing team for their opinion.

Alan Amerault, Associate Director of Digital Marketing

There’s going to be backlash, and negative ‘press’ surrounding lack of advertiser control. I’m assuming the following impacts:

  • Overall CPCs will continue to rise as competition blends further with lack of specification on particular terms.
  • Management ease will improve from a volume gathering standpoint.
  • Negative keyword utilization and strategy will become even more important. Advertisers are forced to adjust for poor results with negatives as opposed to slowly branch out with additional expansion terms and matching types.

How do I feel about it?  It’s as good a time as any to continue to diversify channels, extend marketing footprint, and focus AdWords bidding on the campaigns that drive value, and branching out where they do not.

Alex Tomin, Search Engine Marketing Consultant

I think it will have a negative impact on ability to control keyword relevancy. Currently we have an ability to use close variants (by default) or opt-out from this if necessary. Now AdWords is removing this opt-out option. Basically, AdWords offers less control over the keyword relevancy which would lead to low traffic quality and, as a result, additional advertising cost. In order to filter out irrelevant searches and reduce the cost it makes sense to review the search query report on a regular basis and keep updating your negative keyword list.

As for my own opinion, most of my clients already opt-in to close variants. Performance on mispellings or singular/plural version is not very different. For advertisers that do see performance differences, you can still control visibility by putting negative keywords of the poor performing variations into your ad groups.

What is worrisome to me is this continuing trend of Google making changes to the AdWords platform that limit the control advertisers have over how they spend their own advertising budgets.

What do you think, will this change affect your AdWords advertising strategy?

There are only two weeks left before Google retires Product Listing Ad campaigns, replacing them with Google Shopping campaigns. It’s important to note that PLA campaigns will not automatically be transitioned over. Instead, these legacy campaigns will simply stop running. In order to continue to show PLAs on Google, you must transition your campaigns yourself.

Google has released a new Shopping campaign upgrade tool to make the transition easier for advertisers. You can access this tool from the Settings tab of any of your current PLA campaigns.

Google Shopping Upgrade Tool

Once you hit Get Started, it will open up the tool and it’s really a one-click and your done process. You’ll see your original campaign on the left and the new Shopping campaign on the right. The PLA campaign will remain in its current status and the Shopping campaign will be paused by default. I like this option because it gives you time to adjust and double-check settings for the new campaign before turning it on.

Google Shopping Tool

You can choose to pause your PLA campaign and enable Shopping, but the Shopping campaign will not appear in your account right away. You see at the top the notification that it can take up to 24 hours to be created. I recommend leaving the PLA campaign enabled or else there may be several hours when none of your ads are running.

There are some settings that won’t work with Shopping campaigns, and if your original campaign was utilizing any of those you’ll see a yellow warning icon with a description of the issue. Your campaign will still be created, but these settings won’t be pulled over.

Google Shopping Upgrade Tool Language Notification

It took a couple hours before I saw the new Shopping campaign appear in my account, but I was very happy with the results. First off, all of my ad group names were pulled over which was an issue before the release of this tool. Second, all of my settings were correct. Product targets were changed to product groups and bids were at the same levels. I would still recommend double-checking though before enabling your new campaigns just in case.

If you’ve been running PLA campaigns, this tool will make it very easy to transition to the new format.

For more information on getting started with PLAs, managing Shopping campaigns, or optimizing data feeds check out our upcoming online course!

Register: Google Shopping

 

Google AdWords

Getting Your Feet Wet with Google Shopping Feed Rules

Google Merchant Center has recently rolled out an awesome new feature called ‘Feed Rules’. Feed Rules makes the transition from your inventory management system to your Merchant Center feed quick, seamless, and increasingly automated (especially if you are utilizing the API). Basically, Feed Rules takes unsupported product data and transforms it into supported data, such … Read Full Post

Customizing Ads with AdWords’ Countdown Function

Customization is key with marketing and Google AdWords has some incredible tools that allow advertisers to quickly tailor the messaging of ads to drive action. One of my favorites is the countdown function, which automatically updates ads to let customers know the time remaining for sales or special events. Including the time remaining for a … Read Full Post

Live Webinar: Getting Started with Google’s Shopping Campaigns

Cardinal Path blog post

Date: Tuesday, September 23rd Time: 10:00 am PT / 1:00 pm ET Join Cardinal Path for this one-hour webinar that will teach you how to get started with Google’s Shopping campaigns. Google Shopping allows advertisers to get their products in front of customers on the largest search engine in the world. With AdWord’s new Shopping campaigns, managing your Product Listing … Read Full Post

AdWords To Eliminate Match Type Close Variant Opt-Out

adwords match type close variants

AdWords has announced they will be removing the option for advertisers to opt-out of close variant matching for phrase and exact keywords in late September. What does this change mean for advertisers? Well, close variants are turned on at the campaign level by default, so if you’ve never disabled the option you won’t see any … Read Full Post

Google Shopping Campaign Upgrade Tool

There are only two weeks left before Google retires Product Listing Ad campaigns, replacing them with Google Shopping campaigns. It’s important to note that PLA campaigns will not automatically be transitioned over. Instead, these legacy campaigns will simply stop running. In order to continue to show PLAs on Google, you must transition your campaigns yourself. Google … Read Full Post

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